Archive for Ten Commandments

A Jealous God

Posted in Atheist, belief, Bible, faith, Hebrew scripture, random, religion, scriptures, theology with tags , , , , , , , on October 11, 2014 by chouck017894

According to the old priest-written Hebrew Scriptures any villany or atrocity could be indulged in and excused as long as you believed that a judgmental, prejudiced, reclusive god offered you his protection (at a price of obedience to some self-appointed mouthpieces). The personality of the aloof creator-god was openly stated in some versions of the second Commandment, “…for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.” And in Exodus 34:14 seekers were further reminded, “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous god.” That godly characteristic of jealousy allowed, in turn, the associated holy flaws such as belligerence, intolerance, vindictiveness, violence, pugnacity, warmongering, and a raft of similar niceties. In truth those imagined godly characteristics were unconsciously crafted upon the priest-author’s own ambitions for material control, and their own personal flaws of character were subconsciously tacked onto that imagined being. The faith system that was thus crafted in holy book form pointedly revolved around a never seen deity who can be characterized only as their faith system’s indestructible defender. This holy avenger angle was a lucrative promotional tactic which would also be utilized in the founding and crafting of a couple of other by-the-book faith systems which now dominate western cultures.

However, nowhere in those many volumes of holy writ is it ever explained why an omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (present everywhere) Creator should be racked with such a pathetic human frailty as jealousy. There have, however, been many attempts to get around this apparent weakness–primarily by trying to reinterpret the Hebrew word ganna, which is traditionally translated as “jealous.” Considering that an ultimate power created everything, what could there possibly exist that would cause “him” to suffer the pangs of jealousy? Jealousy is a form of covetousness. Such an idea of godly psychosis only serves to weaken a seeker’s trust. Jealousy is intolerant of rivalry, an emotional weakness that flounders in insecurity, a fear of being supplanted, a distress of possessiveness, an apprehension of ownership–in short, a neurosis.

Nonetheless, Exodus 20:5 portrays the Lord God confessing, “…for I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them…” Let’s face it, that is excessively neurotic. Then in Deuteronomy 4:24 we are told, “For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.” And this gets reinforced in Deuteronomy 5:9 where it again relates, “…for I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the…” etc. As noted, this supposedly jealous disposition of the Creator Lord conveniently flings the doors wide open for mankind (especially the faith system believers) to practice all the other flaws which habitually accompany jealousy. This is even admitted in Proverbs 6:34, which reminds us, “For rage of a man is jealousy; therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.” This is further typified in-depth in the later book of the visionary Ezekiel 5+, the whole chapter of which pretty much extends holy justification for murderous indulgences by the faithful who, in their egoism, believe they are the “chosen” favorites of the jealous Creator.

Through millennia there have been countless apologists who have attempted to counter the negativity held in the emotion of jealousy which is attributed to God in holy writ. And the fancy sidestepping they have indulged in has been something like watching hip-hop dancers who can seem somewhat gracefully disjointed but awesome in their own right. God’s jealousy has been often likened by apologists to the Lord being zealous (which sounds a lot like jealous), or that god waxes enthusiastic or ardent or fervent in “his” commitment for intelligent life. (Perhaps concern for the intelligent part should be stressed more to the unquestioning believers.) In this way the apologists may then split hairs and say, as did the Reverend C. H. Spurgeon in 1863, that, “…there is such a thing as virtuous jealousy.” He also asserted in a sermons that “…jealousy, like anger, is not evil in itself, or it could never be ascribed to God; his jealousy is ever pure and holy.” If that sounds somewhat incongruous it is the stuff that blind faith thrives on. On the other hand, who among us is familiar with the subtleties that are waterlogged within the fountainhead of Creation? Still and all, it is unlikely in that distant timeframe that the priest-authors of the Old Testament would have couched their implications with such iffy phraseology. Those devious priest-authors aggressively sought to exercise authority and control, so it is not exactly in error that the Hebrew word ganna wound up being translated as Jealous, or that this emotional instability can be identified through human indulgence which typically leans toward intolerance and fearfulness of being supplanted.

The aforementioned Reverend Spurgeon may be forgiven his pulpit jockeying over the Lord’s jealousy back in the 1860s for the word does happen to be derived from the medieval Latin word zelosus (no, that is not misspelled, it is Latin). The Latin zelosus, from the Greek zelus, does mean zeal, and a zealous Lord sounds so much more respectful than a jealous one. Or does it? Zeal is an ardent self-commitment to something–a cause, ideal, goal–an enthusiasm and/or devotion in the pursuit of some emotional reassurance. Zeal and fanaticism happen to be unquestionably interchangeable, as history repeatedly demonstrates. Back in the Roman Empire timeframe the members of the Jewish sect which resisted Roman rule in Palestine were referred to a zealots. They feared being supplanted. Thus to this day, inspired by priest-written scriptural lore, the incongruity over God’s alleged jealousy remains. And we are left to ponder why should the all-powerful Creator-Lord of everything be either jealous or zealous about anything he/she/it created?


Ten Commandments Really Property Rights

Posted in Atheist, belief, Bible, culture, faith, Hebrew scripture, prehistory, religion, scriptures, Social with tags , , , , on August 1, 2013 by chouck017894

The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue (the ten words), are presented in two places in the Bible (Exodus 20:1-17, and Deuteronomy 5:6-21), both containing a short summary of godly demand allegedly revealed personally by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. These are known as Mosaic Laws. Strangely, those in Exodus and Deuteronomy are listed somewhat differently. Despite this, the brief list of commandments can be divided into four categories. The first three commandments (or four, depending on which faith system version) cannot be said to concern ethical, moral or even spiritual enlightenment, but lay down the “submit and obey” principles which any cult or faith system seeks to impose. Supposedly these first three (or four) commandments protect the religious followers from misusing divine power to serve personal ends. (How well these actually safeguard the misuse of divine power in political practice is periodically demonstrated by fanatics who belligerently post these commandments in courthouses and government buildings in attempts to force their particular religious convictions upon everyone else.)

In short, the first three (or four) commandments of the ten provide absolutely nothing to elevate any personal spiritual relationship with the creative Source: it is all about “I am the boss, and don’t you forget it.” This just happens, coincidently of course, to establish a power base for the go-betweens who (selflessly, of course) place themselves in service to the big boss. God will brook no rivalry and allows no divided loyalty. These opening commandments may therefore be considered to be the property rights for the priest-class, which leave the remaining commandments open for priestly interpretation of what the big boss wants (even though their interpretations often run counter to the stated commandments).

Not all biblically based faith systems, as noted, follow the same sequence, but the commandment that is most often placed after God’s self promotion is “Honor thy father and mother.” This is indeed a moral responsibility, but equally correct this commandment is a property right. for it protects the elderly when they may no longer be of any economical value to a society. (This places the religious rights’ domination of the Republican Party since 1996 in an awkward position, considering their constant push to destroy Social Security.) All the commandments, most of which are stated in negative “thou shalt not” form, are not strictly a system of heavenly righteousness as is routinely implied but concern matter-life property rights. The commandment “Thou shalt not kill, for example, is an affirmation of the sanctity (personal possession) of life: to take that right-to-life from any person for any reason is against social stability. How loyally this Thou shalt not kill commandment was observed is displayed in the priest-written book of Leviticus which lists twenty-some ways to kill those whom the priests judged did not follow the commandments!

Next is the “Thou shalt not commit adultery” commandment, the sole purpose of which is in regard to men’s property rights, for in priest-written sacred word, woman is assessed as merely the property of man. As in the holy story of Lot, man is free to sell, rent or loan out his daughters and he may use his wife however pleases him. Adultery is thus but a variation of the next commandment which declares “Thou shalt not steal” another man’s property.

The last two holy commandments are actually more in regard to one’s social and/or public reputation which could inflict negative consequences and damage the personal property rights of others—the personal treasure known as integrity (a quality of personhood virtually unknown among religious fanatics and politicians). Thus in bearing false witness (#9) another person’s honor (their personal property of integrity) is soiled which can easily ruin one’s life and property in a community. And “Thou shalt not covet” (#10) is to crave (and probably strive for) something which rightfully belongs to someone else.

Things to consider:
There is very little attention given in textbooks regarding any human cultures prior to around 2500 BCE. This has long been standard practice despite the fact that artifacts, archaeological sites and biological evidence confirms the existence of human cultures dating back at least one million years. Little noted in textbooks is the fact that in the timeframe c.2600 BCE a ruler of Sumer, named Urukagina, found so much immoral activity in his kingdom that he found it necessary to crack down on it. A long inscription by this ruler is regarded as the first-ever record of social reform, and it was founded on a virtuous sense of freedom, equality and justice. A few of the injustices that Urukagina addressed included the unfair use by supervisors of their power to take the best of everything for themselves; the abuse of one’s official position; and the practice of monopolistic groups to impose unbearable prices on the general public. Sound familiar?

Approximately 875 years later (c.1758 BCE) Hammurabi ascended the throne of Babylonia. History, surprisingly, does record that he was responsible for the codification of Babylonian laws and edicts, which were displayed on a stele for the public to see. Hammurabi depicted himself as receiving the code from the god Shamash. The code was strictly a civil code which contained 282 paragraphs covering such things as legal procedures and penalties for unjust accusations, false testimony, and injustice done by judges, etc. Other laws were based on equal retaliation–the eye for an eye approach which later became the suggested “law” practice in the priest-written book Leviticus.

Moses is speculated to have received the Ten Commandments around 1540-30 BCE, and thereafter the Decalogue is said to have served as the fundamental laws of the Hebrews. The Ten Commandments which Moses allegedly received directly from God functioned as a severely condensed version of those earlier rulers. It was the cunning act of dressing those laws in sacred scripture which subtly implied that they were enforced by divine power and which provided their endurance.

Are the Ten Commandments Historically Reliable?

Posted in agnoticism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, culture, faith, freethought, Hebrew scripture, history, prehistory, random, religion, Social with tags , , , , , on August 14, 2011 by chouck017894

Once again there is a big stink over whether or not a monument bearing the Ten Commandments should be displayed on public property.  This time it is in Florida (Cross City) where a five-foot, six-ton, $20,000 granite monument with the commandments listed on it has been plunked down on the front steps of the Dixie County courthouse.  This in-your-face devotion may have good intentions, but the display arouses questions in regard to the background of the “laws” allegedly handed down by god to Moses.

The first four injunctions of the Ten Commandments, also called “Decalogue,” are aimed solely at trying to inveigle god’s conditional love.  As presented, these commandments were penned in the 8th century BCE by priests of Yahweh to use as their authority over the people.  Read the first four alleged “commandments” again: they have nothing to do with maintaining justice, evenhandedness and ethics within society; they are fashioned exclusively to flatter the ego of an imagined humanlike deity.

It must be remembered that the Hebrew Scriptures as we know them were fashioned upon collected oral folklore and modified to written accounts in Jerusalem in the 8th century BCE (700s).  These tales were added to and modified through the next century.  In fact the book of Deuteronomy was not added to the lineup of priest-books until around 536 BCE during the reconstruction period  following the “Babylonian Captivity.”  At that time some enterprising men (priests) discovered versions of Judah’s spiritual past, which are now known as the E, the J, and the P versions, and edited them into the works known as Genesis, Exodus and Numbers, and it was at this time that the work now known as Deuteronomy was added. To present it all as “holy” authority, the works were then claimed to have been dictated by god to the character of Moses on Mount Sinai.  Then it was easy to have the assertion accepted that the whole Torah was from Moses’ hand—this despite that such belief meant that Moses often spoke of himself in the third person.

The Hebrew name for what is more widely known as Exodus is We’ elieh semot, which begins, “And these are the names…”  This opening phrase serves as the name for the book, which is a convenient link to the preceding narrative of Genesis.  It is not accidental that the opening words of Exodus which lists the descendants of Israel utilize precisely the same words as found in Genesis 46:8.  So too, there is considerable narrative borrowed from Genesis 12 which revolves around the alleged promise of Yahweh to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob regarding progeny and land ownership.

Where could the inspiration for the lordly commandments have come from?  Certain facts from genuine ancient history provide clues.  Around 2600 BCE a ruler of Sumer, who was named Urukagina, found so much immoral activity in his kingdom that he found it necessary to post laws for the people to obey.  The long inscription is regarded as the first-ever record of social reform, and it was instituted from a noble concept of freedom, equality and justice.  A few of the injustices that Urukagina addressed included the unfair use by supervisors of their power to take the best of everything for themselves; the abuse of one’s official position; and the practice of monopolistic groups to extort unbearable prices.  Sounds discouragingly like GOP politics in the USA today, doesn’t it?

Approximately 842 years later (c. 1758 BCE), Hammurabi of Babylon would decree a similar code upon the immorality found within his kingdom.  These laws were displayed on a stele for the public to see, and the king depicted himself as receiving the law code from the god Shamash.  The code sought to protect the weak and the poor against the injustices practiced at the hands of the rich and powerful.  The Hammurabi code was strictly a civil code of 282 paragraphs, not a pretense of religious worthiness.  Many of the punishments were based on the principle of equal retaliation—the juvenile “eye-for-an-eye” revenge approach.  This, in turn, was utilized in the Hebrew myths by those who presented the tale of the Ten Commandments as having been handed down to Moses by god.

Jump ahead to the timeframe c. 637 BCE.  King Amon of the little state of Judah was assassinated, and his eight year old son, Josiah, became king.  Young Josiah was to bring about religious reform to Judah, and the impetus for this was the suspicious coincidence of the High Priest Hilkiah “discovering” within the walls of the Temple which was being repaired, the “Book of Law”—the alleged last sermon by Moses to the children of Israel.  When the High Priest’s secretary, named Shapan, read the sermon aloud to Josiah, the boy was horrified, for it convinced him that his ancestors had failed to obey the Lord’s strict instructions given to Moses.

The timely “discovery” of this work, which is almost certainly the work of the High Priest Hilkiah and his secretary Shapan, would become the core of the scriptural book known as Deuteronomy, and is widely accepted as meaning “second law.”  In Hebrew this work is called debarim, meaning “words,” taken from the opening verse.  It is from this “discovered” Book of Law that the “Israelites,”which at that time was promoted as the faithful of Yahweh, were charged (with typical cult prohibitions) to have no transactions, no social interaction, and no intermarriage whatever with the native inhabitants of the region.  Followers were to understand that Yahweh was a most psychotically jealous god.  And the “discovered” sermon of Moses clearly stated, “For you are a people consecrated to Yahweh your Elohim; it is you that Yahweh our Elohim has chosen to be his very own people out of all the people of the earth.”  This is now included in Deuteronomy 7:5-6; and so too are all the other alleged demands said to have been listed in the discovered “Book of Law.”  It was in this timeframe that the working foundation of what is now known as the Old Testament was set down.  As a result, the Ten Commandments thus appear in three places in Scripture; Exodus 20:1, Exodus 34:28, and in Deuteronomy 5:6-21.

When considering the Ten Commandments, we should pause to ask, “Which Ten Commandments?”  Even the scriptural accounts relate that the first set of commandments (in Exodus 20) wound up in broken fragments due to Moses falling into a fit of rage (Exodus 32:16-19).  The second version of the commandments (Exodus 34), had little resemblance to the first!  Had god forgotten what he had said originally?

According to the highly edited version from which we are instructed to take as moral guidance, the first four commandments concern only how we are supposed to think about god if we are to receive his conditional love.  The remaining six commandments express no concern on how to be compassionate, impartial, upright, tolerant or enlightened—the very soul of genuine morality.  The single commandment expressed in positive terms is honor thy father and mother.  The remaining commandments (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, as popularly presented) are couched in decidedly negative terms–“thou shalt not.”

Is this questionable background of Moses’ alleged relay of god’s laws a worthy cause to indulge in deliberate disobedience of civil law?

Codes of Conduct

Posted in Atheist, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 22, 2009 by chouck017894

As far back in time as c.2600 BCE a ruler of Sumeria named Urukagina found so mujch immoral activity throughout his empire that it became necessary for him to enact prohibitions against the rampant corruption. The long inscription erected by this ruler for the people to comply with is regarded as the first-ever record of social reform, and the code of conduct that was expected of the people was anchored on an ideal of equality and justice.

A few of the many injustices that Urukagina addressed included the unfair use of their powers by supervisors to take the best of collections for themselves; the abuse of one’s official position; the practice of monopolistic groups to extort unbearable prices on needed goods–in short, the same practices that still taint the religio-political in-crowd of today.

By c.2300 BCE the Assyrian civilization had compounded out of the Babylonian and Hittie cultures, and the Akkadian leader named Sargon I had become the supreme ruler–under the designation as “regent of the god Assur”–his influence being over a broad territory that nonetheless remained dependent upon Babylon. Corruption, as usual, interfered with the ideal of keeping an element of balance in civil affairs. Thus around c.2350 BCE laws were being determined and recorded on clay tablets, laws that were declared to have been presented under the authority of the god Nannar.

Approximately eight hundred and fifty years after the Sumerian code of Urukagina, and some five hundred years after the Assyrian laws (or c.1758 BCE), a Babylonian king named Hammurabi decreed a similar code of justice and set up the means to enforce it. Hammurai’s code was engraved on a block of black diorite that stood nearly eight feet high, and the provisions set forth for the public to read and heed was an effort to protect the weak and the poor against injustices as the hands of the rich and powerful. Interestingly, a bas-relief under the 282 paragraphs of the civil code shows King Hammurabi recieving the code from the god Shamash.

It is upon this code of conduct that the priest-editors of the book of Exodus fashioned the abbreviated version of a code of conduct known as the Ten Commandments, and law (anchored in materiality and civil conduct) became enthroned as the soul and backbone of Judaism–as well as the grafted-on spine of Christianity. And of course, the priest-editors of Exodus written in Jerusalem c.800 BCE declared that the Ten Commandments had been written in stone and handed down to Moses by the god Yahweh.

There is a peculiar uncertainty of approach expressed with the opening lines, for omnipotent power should not be anxious about a possibility of being upstaged. But the first four of the ten directives have no moral instructions but do imply the authority of the priest class. And conspicuously absent from this god-given list is any instruction or requirements on treating all persons fairly in all interactions or transactions. Could this possibly be why fundamentalists periodically campaign to have the Ten Commandments poste in all judicial buildings and other public places?